You’ve Heard of Pope Francis, but Do You Know Deacon Francis (aka Deacon Frank Iannarino)?
A Permanent Deacon is a very important vocation within the Catholic Church. We recently had the good fortune of sitting down with one of Columbus’ most beloved Deacons, Frank Iannarino. You have probably seen Deacon Frank somewhere around C-bus over the last 26 years as he has many roles within the Columbus Diocese. We wanted to share our interview as it sheds a light on another important role in the church, The Deacon.
Face Forward: When and why did you become a Deacon?
Deacon Frank: I was ordained a deacon on November 11, 1989 by Bishop James Griffin. I always felt a great love for service as I was growing up. I did various service projects in grade school and high school as well as joined a service fraternity while in college. As I studied theology, the diaconate as a permanent order came into restoration by the 2nd Vatican Council and I did my thesis on the deacon and the Sacrament of Holy Orders. I had a good friend who was the Director of the Diaconate at the time and many priests who encouraged me to discern the diaconate as a vocation along with being married. It was a great decision and with the support of my wife and family I have been ordained now for 26 years.
Face Forward: What is a typical day in the life of Deacon Frank?
Deacon Frank: I presently am the Director of the Diaconate for the Diocese of Columbus and oversee the ministry, life, and formation of all deacons for Bishop Campbell. Along with that I am also the chaplain and the Director of Religious Education at Bishop Watterson High School where I have taught for almost 40 years. My day is very typical as a teacher responsible to my students but as the Chaplain and Diaconate Director I get some changes and surprises throughout my day with assisting at Mass, doing baptisms and weddings on the weekends at St. Brigid of Kildare; counseling people, visiting the sick; delivering food to pantries or clothes to shelters and basically living my life as the Servant Jesus entrusted with the Ministry of Word, Altar, Charity/Justice.
Face Forward: What is your favorite thing to do as a Deacon?
Deacon Frank: Probably teaching is my most favorite part as I enjoy it and feel I was born to be a teacher. It is a wonderful career and it complements the ministry of a deacon in a Catholic school and parish setting. Being with my students and colleagues on the faculty either at Bishop Watterson or the Josephinum strengthens my preaching and gives me a good avenue to evangelize for Christ. Helping in all ways to evangelize whether it is being a husband, father, coach, formation director etc. is not work to me. I enjoy every minute of being with people at significant times in their life.
Face Forward: Tell us about your family.
Deacon Frank: I am the 2nd child of five in a large Italian family. I grew up in Saint Catharine Parish and attended Saint Charles High School. I met my wife, Peggy, while in college and God has blessed us with three great children who are now adults.
Face Forward: Are any of your children exploring a particular vocation right now?
Deacon Frank: As of now, I would bet that they are discerning the Sacrament of Matrimony as two of them are dating someone seriously. My oldest daughter is handicapped and even though she is not really capable of living on her own she has a nice time being with other special needs people at AllRFriends where she is a little more functional then some of the others who attend there. She goes there on a social and educational basis but in the big picture she has helped others along the way who are handicapped…as well as their families. Time will tell if my other two adult children will choose to be married as I believe it is a vocation. Many people tend to believe that what job we have is a” vocation” but that really is a “career”. I think God calls us to being single, married, ordained and/or consecrated religious. By virtue of our Baptism we then journey through many stages of life to seek and become a child of God.
Face Forward: What is the hardest thing about being a Deacon?
Deacon Frank: Helping people understand exactly who a deacon is and not what a deacon does. Unfortunately, we put so much emphasis in what someone can do for us and how productive we must be to explain our worth in the world. Also, watching others struggle through life without a sense of God is hard to deal with at times. I could go on, but you probably understand that a person is never really happy until they discover their vocation and that God calls all of us to follow him.
Face Forward: Can you describe what it was like serving communion to the pilgrims in Philadelphia during Pope Francis’ visit?
Deacon Frank: It was probably one of the most powerful faith experiences I have ever had! I was honored to be chosen to bring Christ in the Blessed Sacrament to his people. However, it was just wonderful that I could watch people from all over the world have the privilege to receive Christ at this very special event honoring the family. Pope Francis is very inspiring and I like that I am now fondly called “Deacon Francis”.
Face Forward: What advice would you give someone who was considering becoming a Deacon?
Deacon Frank: As weird as this may sound…make an appointment to see me! I am the one who can help someone begin to formally discern the call to the Diaconate. In fact, if you talk to your pastor or another deacon in our diocese that is probably what they will say, “…go see Deacon Frank Iannarino”! Someday, it will be someone else as I, obviously, won’t have this ministry forever, but for now this is the best advice I can give without going into my whole “sales pitch”.
FAST FUN FIVE FAVORITES
Face Forward: Who is your favorite Saint?
Deacon Frank: I have many…but it is obviously the first saints … Mary and Joseph. There is also Saint Francis ( all of them…Assisi, DeSales, Xavier etc,) Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Charles Borremeo, Saint Brigid of Kildare …are you getting a pattern here from all the places I studied and/or parishes I minister as a deacon.
Face Forward: What is your favorite prayer?
Deacon Frank: The sacrifice of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours
Face Forward: What is your favorite restaurant?
Deacon Frank: Anything Italian… but I do love TAT di familia…Jimmy Corrova’s restaurant on the east side. I grew up down the street from that restaurant and hung out there as I was growing up. My Mom and Dad loved it and we would order from their menu a lot. I also love Rubino’s Pizza on East Main Street
Face Forward: What is the last movie you saw?
Deacon Frank: Believe it or not my favorite book is “The Greatest Game Ever Played”…and, believe it or not, that is also the last movie I saw. It is about an amateur golfer in the early 20th century who, as a teenager, went on to win the US Open. It is true story and the movie captured the book very well too. I love golf as both a player and coach
Face Forward: What is your favorite book?
Deacon Frank: See above